Working From Home: Secrets to Staying Motivated and Sane

Work From Home sign and animated character in straitjacket

On the surface, working from home seems like winning the lottery. You get to sleep in, there’s no commute, and, best of all, pants are optional. It seems like moving your office to your house is the best idea going. But in reality, working from home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Ask anyone who currently works from home. After they tell you how much they love it, they will most likely start laying out why it can actually be as difficult as working in an office, just in different ways.

There are some secrets to successfully working from home, and with a little work on your part and some adherence to a schedule you can make your pantsless workday everything you hoped it would be – and maybe even more.

RELATED: Time Management Tips for Increased Productivity

Problems With Working From Home

So, you’ve been given the chance to work from home and you’re wondering if you should take it. While this seems like a gift from the gods, there are some issues that you need to understand before saying yes and running out that door.

Disconnect – One of the biggest issues with working from home has to do with those of us that work on a team. If you regularly talk to your coworkers to solve problems and get feedback, this will greatly be impacted when you’re not there in person. We’ll look at some ways around this, but you need to know it will be there.

Man at computer with beer bottle on desk

Working Too Much – At first this seems unlikely – after all, your boss isn’t there looking over your shoulder, so you should be able to stop work and kick back whenever you feel like it, right? Not quite. When there’s no mass exodus of coworkers telling you it’s the end of the day, it’s far too easy to work yourself harder than you normally would. When it’s as easy as waking your computer from sleep to check email and finish a problem, you may find yourself putting in way more hours than you’d like.

Guy relaxing on sofa with laptop next to him

Distraction – While disconnect is a tough issue to overcome, the single biggest problem to overcome when working from home is getting distracted. This can come in many forms: family members thinking they can talk to you, friends expecting you to hang out, or knowing something is on TV that you really want to watch. Worst of all, knowing nobody is looking over your shoulder makes for easy slacking on the Internet.

Duplicate contacts killing your productivity? See how Scrubly can help in this 100-second video.

Effectively Working From Home

Even though working from home has its issues, the benefits outweigh them tenfold. The key to working from home effectively is to focus on the areas that are the biggest pain points for you.

Disconnect – Make it a point to chat with coworkers via messaging services such as Skype or internal chat applications – and not only for work-related questions and issues. Drop a line to the people you work with every few days just to say hey and let them know you’re still there. It also helps to come in and work in the office one or two days per month if possible, so people remember you, too.

Working Too Much – If this is your issue, then set a strict schedule and stick to it. Sure, there will be times that you need to work over, but those come up when you’re in the office, too. Judge these instances accordingly and consider them very special occasions. If there’s no major project going on and it’s quitting time, get off the computer and power down. You deserve your free time as much as the other people you work with.

Distraction – If, as with most people, your issue is distractions, you will ultimately have to change your work style to get things done. It’s easy to put a load of laundry in while you’re working, but remember that single load of laundry will pull you away from your workday at least three times. Factor in calls from friends and family, signing for packages, and random stops for getting something to eat or drink, and you see how quickly things can add up to damage your productivity. The best advice for focus is to follow a program that helps you get things done, such as the Pomodoro Technique.

Desk with open laptop and empty chair

Instead of working from the couch or your favorite chair, make a workspace for yourself and be consistent about using it. This will help instill the idea that when you’re in that space, you’re in work mode. Perhaps just as important, it’ll do the same with the other people in your house.

Set up your workday and stick to it. Before long you’ll be getting more work done in less time, and you won’t even need to put shoes on to do it.

Working from home can be a huge boon to your life, but gone unmanaged it can quickly become a shortcut to poor performance and dissatisfaction with your job. Learning from the beginning how to work effectively from home will help you reap the benefits while still being a great employee.

Scrubly social-sharing menu.

Scrubly sign-up.